2017 in Review: Top 20 Prime Slices of the Year

Compiled in no particular order by Music Directors Jon O’Neal, Erin Ober & Ruben Radlauer

Alvvays – Antisocialites

Antisocialites is easy to listen to without falling into platitudes. Alvvays has matured in their songs and sound, resulting in a memorable album equal parts wistful and feel good.

KÁRYYN – QUANTA 1:11 / Radio Sampler

QUANTA 1:11 is a bizarre and ethereal work that ranges from ambient synths and Bjork inspired vocals to noise electronic breaks. A must listen for anyone interested in the what the cutting edge of experimental electronic sounds like in 2017.

Destroyer – ken

Ken is the latest lesson in dark pastiche from Destroyer. While borrowing the polished pop production from the 80s, the darkness and weirdness lurking underneath the sheen feels timeless.

Metz – Strange Peace

Metz’s punishing third album feels like it exists in a room collapsing in on itself. Recorded with legendary engineer Steve Albini, this is Metz like you’ve never heard them before. Mess of Wires might be the best heavy song of the year.

Cobraman – New Driveway

Recorded as the full soundtrack to a Thrasher skate film, this album recalls skate music of the 80s and is a quirky, fun listen all the way through.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid

Berklee alumnus Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s latest album is otherworldly. The Kid is a blend of surreal synth textures and lush electronically layered vocals.

Girlpool – Powerplant

Girlpool’s first album with a full band adds a whole other layer of dynamics and sound without compromising the intimacy and closeness that first drew so many people to the band.

ODESZA – A Moment Apart

A Moment Apart is full of instant electric jams, which is probably why it’s nominated for the Best Dance/Electronic Album of the year. Odesza has always been able to put out songs that you can almost immediately sing along to while still maintaining a real sense of originality. Their synth sounds are crisp and enticing, pulling you in with every build up and beat drop.

Superorganism – Something for Your M.I.N.D. [Single]

This wonderfully strange pop song is all about the production. The juxtaposition between the smooth background vocals and jumpy synth keeps you hanging on to every line. If you haven’t gotten into Superorganism before, this single will surely convince you to check them out.

Hippo Campus – Wam Glow

Hippo Campus truly embodies the indie pop genre. With its bright, laid back guitars, and catchy hooks, this short three song album is the perfect background music for a summer drive with the windows down.

Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

Although each track has its own sense of complexity in groove, lyric, and theme, Painted Ruins as a whole feels lighter and less internal than some of Grizzly Bear’s past works. The driving guitars and warm vocals create a new world for the listener to explore and live in for a little while. It is a silky smooth, psychedelically simple, and just a straight up good album to listen to.

Yumi Zouma – Willowbank

This whole album is so laid back and easy to listen to. The lead singer, Christie Simpson, has the most fitting, soothing indie pop voice that mixes wonderfully with the dreamy guitars and relaxed drum pocket.

Overcoats – Young (Deluxe)

Electro-pop duo, Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, are meant to sing together. This album really stands out from the beginning with the first track, “Father”, a seemingly celtic inspired song that one wouldn’t expect from a typical indie pop band. Overcoats keeps the listener interested with different influences like this throughout the album, while still keeping things consistent with their driving harmonies and classic synth sounds.

De Lux – More Disco Songs About Love

More Disco Songs About Love is the modern day disco album you didn’t know you needed. It is clear to hear the 80s inspiration throughout the album, whether it’s the Stevie Wonder-esque drum grooves, flute sounds reminiscent of Van McCoy’s “The Hustle”, or general similarity to The Talking Heads. Overall great listen, and even better to dance to.

L.A. Witch – L.A. Witch

60s vibes, Reminds me a lot off the work from Olivia Jean of The Black Belles. Doorsy with a bit of Alice Cooper influences.

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice

Wonderful collaboration from the two. They really compliment each other’s style and sound.

Thundercat – Drunk

Another album that contains an incredible collaboration featuring Michael Mcdonald and Kenny Loggins (Show You The Way). Thundercat never ceases to amaze me as he continues to push the envelope musically with his compositions.

Paul Schaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band – Paul Schaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band

The first release from Paul Schaffer post Letterman’s retirement with members of the CBS Orchestra. A lot of great songs featuring artists like Shaggy, Darius Rucker and Dion. My favorite track is “Happy Street” which features comedy legend Bill Murray.

White Reaper – The World’s Best American Band

Awesome album from the Louisville-based Garage Rock band that gives off classic 70s rock vibes. “Judy French” is a must listen on this record.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana, Murder of the Universe, Sketches of Brunswick East, Polygondwanaland

Not only am I impressed with the fact that King Gizzard released 4 albums in one year, but that each album sounds better than the next one! The musical integrity of each album is uniquely fitted into each release while still maintaining to aesthetic and style of the band’s overall sound. Bravo gentlemen, bravo.